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How To Write A Melody That Sounds Catchy Using 3 Powerful Songwriting Methods

by Ryan Buckner



Would you like to understand how to write melodies that are catchy just like the ones in your favorite songs? Want to feel satisfaction every time you listen to a melody you wrote because you can't help but nod your head along to the music? The truth is, writing melodies that sound great and get stuck in the heads of anyone who hears your music is not as hard as you might think. Although there are many musicians who struggle with this issue, you can quickly begin writing catchy melodies in your songs by learning several basic songwriting concepts.

In this article, I will show you 3 powerful songwriting methods to help you write melodies that sound catchy. To get the best results in your songwriting, practice each method several times.

That said, here are 3 powerful songwriting methods to use for writing catchy melodies:

How To Write A Catchy Melody, Approach 1: Make It Sing-able

One of the most effective ways to write catchy melodies is to focus on making your melody highly sing-able. The reason this works is simple: when we hear a song melody that we can sing, it is easier for us to identify the musical pattern in our heads. This emphasizes the musical idea and makes it stick out. On the other hand, if you write a melody that is too complicated and hard to sing, it is harder to identify a specific pattern and more likely to be ignored or passed over. Of course, this does not mean that all melodies must be 'basic' or 'slow'. Even during faster musical passages such as technical guitar solos, there will still be slower, more sing-able sections within it to make it memorable for the listener.

Exercise:

To write melodies that are more sing-able, you will be using both your voice and another instrument (don't worry, you don't need to be a great singer). After completing these steps you will have a melody that is made of 4 distinct parts.

Here are the steps to follow:

  1. First, choose an instrument that you will be using to create your melody. Alternatively, you can also use music writing software.
  2. Using the instrument from the previous step, write a 'short' melodic idea to begin your new melody. For this idea, focus on creating the most interesting idea possible using only a few notes at most.
  3. Once you have written a short melodic idea, use your voice to sing the next part of your melody. You can make your idea sound similar to the one you played (essentially splitting the melody into two halves) or you can make it into its own independent idea. Don't make your idea too complicated. Note: you may need to use an instrument to help you find the notes with your voice.
  4. Next, use your instrument to repeat the idea you came up with in step two using little or no variation in the way you play it.
  5. Once again, use your voice to sing the next part of the melody. However this time, do not repeat the same idea from step 3.

By going through the steps of this exercise, you can drastically change the way you approach writing melodies with an instrument. While forcing yourself to think about your note choices by actively singing parts of the melody, you reduce the amount of 'wasted' notes that might make your music less interesting while improving the overall quality of your music. Additionally, to enhance your ability to write catchy sing-able melodies, it is very important to understand how to balance tension and release. Learn how to do this by reading this article about musical unity and variety .

Get help finding even more ways to write sing-able melodies using the techniques in this free eBook about writing vocal melodies like your favorite singers.

How To Write A Catchy Melody, Approach 2: Make It Unique

Great melodies often contain a specific element within them that creates a sense of novelty and surprise for the listener. For instance, imagine a melody that progressively gets louder and louder until it reaches its final, highest note. Some other examples of this could include using a harmony between two singers, playing notes from a different key or using various instrument-specific techniques (such as bends for guitarists or glissando for vocalists). To make each melody you write stand out, think of a single musical element or nuance you can focus on and write your idea with this in mind. Once you master the ability to utilize various songwriting elements to give each melody you write its own unique sound, it will be much easier to write catchy melodies. Use the songwriting techniques in this eBook to discover many creative ways to use the main elements of music for writing unique melodies.

Exercise:

In this case, you will make your melody unique by focusing on ONE specific note to make it stand out from the other notes. Begin improvising a short melodic idea on your instrument. After you have thought up an idea, identify the pitch of the 'final' note you chose to end your melody. Then, repeat the final note of your melody one octave higher and emphasize it using any technique that is specific to the instrument you are using. By doing this, you have created a contrast in the pitch range of the notes being used. This makes the final note you played very memorable and increases the novelty of the idea as a whole.

How To Write A Catchy Melody, Approach 3: Give It Direction

To write a melody that is memorable and engaging, it is useful to lead the listener by creating a sense of direction in your music. Many catchy melodies involve the use of reoccurring patterns that seem to be 'moving' toward a set destination. To get a basic idea of how this works, pick any major scale and continually repeat the 6th, 7th and 1st notes of the scale in order (6,7,1,6,7,1,6,7,1, etc.). After repeating these three notes for a while you will start to feel like you are being lead somewhere. By being able to write melodies that pull your listener in one direction or another, you can effectively get their attention and cause your musical ideas to get 'stuck' in their head.

One super-effective way to create direction in a melody is to use "pedal point" in your melody. This refers to a musical idea that repeats a single note (commonly the lowest note) while other notes sound above it. For example, imagine playing a series of chords while repeating an "A" note in the bass each time you play a chord.

This same effect can be achieved while writing melodies by repeating the same note in between each note of your melody. For instance, here is a series of notes for a basic melody that use pedal point technique: A – B – A – G# - A – B – A – E – A. Because there is constantly a single note being played against the other notes (the 'pedal note'), it creates a pull toward that note, giving the musical idea direction.

Exercise:

Here is one way to use the power of pedal point technique to create direction in your melody and get your idea stuck in the head of your listeners:

Begin writing your melody by improvising a short musical idea. Use only 3-4 notes at most. Then, once you have come up with a short melody, create a variation of that melody by adding a pedal note in between the notes of your idea. Create three variations of your original idea by using pedal point frequently (every other note repeats the pedal note), ONLY during the first half of your melody and ONLY during the last half of your melody. Each one of these approaches will shape your melody in different ways. Pay attention to the way each one feels and how it creates direction in your musical idea.

To learn more about how the idea of 'leading' your listeners by creating a sense of direction in your music, it's a good idea to read this article about writing chord progressions too.

With these three techniques we are just scratching the surface on melody writing. If you like what you've read so far, then you are going to absolutely love this FREE eBook on how to write vocal melodies and lyrics in the style of your favorite singers (get it by clicking on the button below):


Learn how to play great guitar melodies with personalized electric guitar lessons online .